tv U.S. Senate Sen. Udall on Coronavirus Impact CSPAN March 26, 2020 5:30am-5:44am EDT
whatever differences that may still exist at this moment and i'm trying to be fair because i know a lot of people are finally seeing the full text of it in just the last few hours, and if you've caught something that can be fixed, it should be fixed. but i plead. i don't know what other word to use. that we don't leave here tonight without having passed this bill. because i honestly don't know how this nation and our people can afford one more day of this. mr. president, i yield the floo. -- quorum call. the presiding officer: we are. mr. udall: i wish to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: today we face a pandemic the likes of which we have not seen in over 100 years and today the senate must act to pass the largest relief package
for the american people in our history. first i'd like to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone who is personally affected by this coronavirus pandemic. i thank the health care workers who are working long hours and risking their own health to save lives. they are performing a national service. the numbers of infected individuals and the rapidly rising death toll with staggering. if we do not follow public health experts advice, the totals could be truly horrifying. in new mexico we have over 100 diagnosed cases and today the first death in our state was reported, a senior citizens from edy county in the southeastern part of our state passed away. all americans are facing new challenges, a threat to our health, a threat to our economy.
my top priority is easing this hardship and making sure new mexicans have what they need to stay healthy and to stay economically afloat. with that in mind, i'm rising it today to tell new mexicans relief is on the way. we relief to american workers who have been put of work and to small businesses that are making impossible decisions because of the coronavirus pandemic. relief to our hospitals and front-line health care workers facing an overwhelmed health care system in the coming weeks and months and relief to local states and governments that are doing their best to take care of their residents and maintain essential services. state and local governments are desperately in need of assistance only the federal government can provide.
and tribal governments to whom we owe trust and treaty obligations to provide health care, education, and community assistance, particularly in times of need. after days of furious negotiations, i'm pleased and relieved that democrats and republicans were able to reach agreement on what will be the largest federal relief effort in our history. the times demand a response of this magnitude. the stay-at-home orders which make no mistake are necessary to stop the virus, threaten the livelihood of millions of working families that live paycheck to paycheck. millions of small businesses are in dire need of help. they power our economy but simply can't survive during the kind of economic downturn we now face. the federal government has the
power to make sure that people can take the public health measures that are necessary while also staying afloat financially. we are here in the senate -- we here in the senate need to make absolutely sure that everyone, not just those at the top -- that everyone is taken care of and can weather this crisis. i'm strongly supportive of the small business relief in this bill, which includes loans of up to $10 million that can be forgiven and turned into grants if employees are kept on the payroll. this relief will go through the small business administration and be available to any business or nonprofit under 500 employees. with democrats at the negotiating table, we worked toward that goal, and as a
result, american workers will receive four months more of unemployment insurance instead of just three because so many americans are now out of work we need an expanded unemployment insurance plan. this plan extends unemployment to the self-employed for the first time, it increases the maximum benefit by $600 per week. many workers will receive their full pay under this expansion. just to give an idea of the magnitude of this problem in my home state of new mexico, during the week of march 9, we had fewer than 800 claims for unemployment. this last week we had 11,000 and now we are receiving 7,000 every day. also, because democrats stood firm, our health care system will see an infusion of
$55 billion into the marshal plan for health care. the total public health care investment in this bill is now $150 billion. we will establish a $150 billion relief fund for state, local, and tribal governments to help cover costs of fighting this virus. new mexico is eligible for up to $1.25 billion from this, and we will bring accountability and transparency for the relief of industries and large corporations. this relief bill puts in transparency and independent oversight and also makes sure that elected politicians, including the president, are not the beneficiaries of this fund. we face a national crisis of monumental proportions, and i'm heartened that republicans and
democrats in this body join together over -- joined together over the last several days to face this crisis to the as a nation -- together as a nation. this is what we do as americans. and i have hope that as we continue to face down this crisis in the coming weeks months, we will continue to do so in a united fashion. as vice chair of the senate indian affairs committee, i've been particularly focused on making sure that indian country is not left out, and ensuring that tribes who are on the front lines of this public health and economic crisis have the resources they need and deserve. together, with my democratic colleagues, i fought for and secured an $8 billion set aside for tribal governments and their enterprises. this tribal relief fund will provide the 574 federally
recognized indian tribes with flexible resources, resources they need during the covid-19 response. and i'm glad we found bipartisan agreement on this. we also secured over $2 billion in emergency funding for tribal needs, and this includes over $1 billion for the indian health service that will be used for everything from expanding medical services to purchasing equipment to promoting public health education to expanding telehealth services and increasing disease surveillance. and over $700 million that will go to the bureau of indian affairs, the bureau of indian education, and the h.u.d. office of native american programs. these funds will assist tribal governments as they make their way through this crisis and support their members, support the i.b.e. schools and tribal
colleges and universities so that students continue with their education, and provide housing for those most in need who were impacted by this terrible virus. these are key victories, but we're not done. we must uphold our trust and treaty responsibilities to all american indians and alaska natives, and so congress must do more to respond to the unique covid-19-related public health and economic crises in indian country. tribes are some of the most vulnerable populations with the least robust health care systems. we have a very scary outbreak on the navajo nation and i'm sure that beneed to weigh in -- we need to weigh in and help there. for our next response package, and believe me we're going to have to monitor this closely and
we're in all likelihood going to be back here again. we must make sure that indian country has equal access to federal coronavirus resources. senator heinrich and i fought hard for new mexico priorities. we are working hard on issues that have to do with our national labs, one of our very, very top employers, in fact, probably the biggest. new mexico's creative economy can't be left behind. sitting at the lead democrat on the appropriations subcommittee that funds the national endowment, i pushed for an additional $75 million for both the national endowment for the arts and national endowment for the humanities. these funds will support local artists and arts programs through this tough economic ti time, when arts and cultural venues are shuttered and artists and all others are out of work,
there's no doubt that these are exceedingly difficult times but together we can get through this. i would like to remind everyone to follow the public health measures recommended by the experts. staying at home is the best thing we can do to slow the spread of this virus and ensure our health care systems are not overrun. these measures are a fire break that cuts off the fuel for this virus and prevents a catastrophe that overruns our hospitals. social distance, wash your hands for 20 seconds. we all have an important part to play in containing covid-19 and keeping ourselves and our neighbors and our communities safe. the state of new mexico is under a stay-at-home order. i commend governor grisham for
the quick and decisive action that she has taken and she is focusing in like this like a laser beam. i know these measures are difficult and a hardship for many, but we will only be able to revive our economy once this public health crisis is abated. if we just let the virus run its course, we could lose over a million people. some estimates are two million, one to two million. that would be totally unacceptable and devastating. and because of the frontline health care workers, the doctors, the nurses, and the technicians and all those who support that work, hospital janitors, cafeteria workers and so many others, this public health crisis will see an end. thank you to everyone who is
risking their own safety to help others and thanks to all the senate staff that is here on the floor and the people that work here. in the days and weeks and months ahead, we must continue to closely monitor all as pepghts of the impact of coronavirus on our nation's health and economy and continue to decisively and aggressively respond to the needs of the american people. i am confident that working together as one nation and one people we will meet and beat this crisis and come out on the other end stronger. to conclude we must pass this bill without delay. this is a good compromise and we must act now. madam president, i notehe call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: